1. The Gift
Trying to calm herself down she took another sip from the little glass bottle and fell into a long peaceful sleep. ‘Poison’, the bottle read. Her brother wandered everywhere in the scorching heat of the sun; only this time he wasn’t searching for a job but begging for justice to his sister. “She was raped” they all said, little did they comfort her when she needed. But now they came to see her, to watch her, to watch her body burn to ashes. She waited for two long months which seemed never ending. She was losing hope, couldn’t see her brother’s distress for her, and nearly died when saw she saw her criminals roaming freely in the street in front of her house. Her brother gave his best and consoled his sister, told her to be strong, but she was broken and cried till her eyes were thorough. One fine day he gave her, her favorite chocolate to lift up her spirit. She smiled and took it gratefully! He came back from the station and saw her asleep on the chair, the chocolate, half- eaten on the table. He smiled softly and moved his hand over her head, felt it was cold, lifted up her lifeless hand and saw the little glass bottle. People murmured everywhere around him and told him they had his back, that he should not give up. Slowly, with heavy legs, he walked forward and lit up the pyre and watched his sister’s body burn. Through his tears he could see her being lifted up with the smoke, bidding Goodbye. “Hurrah! We won the case, they are behind the bars.” The supporters cried with joy. Only her brother stood at the stairs, staring at the sky, wearing faded clothes, “five long years”, he sighed. And thought “if only and only she was here to see the triumph, to see herself win!” He went home, quiet all along the way, stepped inside the house, walked past his sister’s photograph and went to her room. Hugged the packet close to his heart and lied there for the rest of the night. Crying? No, he felt vague and lonely. In the morning, he took a closer look at the gift packet. Opened it and took out a beautiful white kurta and rakhi, stepped on his feet and walked towards his sister’s photograph, kept the gift there and said, “Happy Raksha Bandhan”. It was for the first time ever that he had smile and tears together on his face.